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Howard Ain, Trubleshooter: Save on hospital procedures

Updated: Friday, January 30 2015, 08:50 AM EST
CINCINNATI (Howard Ain) -- What you pay at different Cincinnati area hospitals can vary widely, even for the same procedure.

Knowing this information could save you money when you choose which hospital you use.

One hospital may have low fees for one procedure, but charge higher amounts for  another treatment, so I decided to find out if it really pays for you to shop around.

Federal medicare recently released area hospital fees for a variety of procedures. The differences are surprising.

For instance:   The posted  charges for treating a major respiratory infection range from almost $29,000 at Jewish Hospital to $36,000 at Good Samaritan; about $39,000 at St. Elizabeth's North and more than $45,000 at Fort Hamilton Hughes Memorial Hospital.

On a national level, the differences are even more significant. When it comes to the cost for knee or hip replacements we found national hospital charges in a range from $5,300 in Ada, Oklahoma to $223,000 in Monterey Park, California. 

It's no different locally for these procedures. Hospital costs range  from  $45,500 at Mercy Franciscan Western Hills to $53,000 at St.Elizabeth's North, $77,000 at Good Samaritan and more than $92,000 at University Hospital.

UC Health's Diana Lara says hospitals treat different populations. UC's hospital costs more in some cases because its patients are a lot sicker.

"If you're primary diagnosis was you needed knee surgery, but you also had heart disease and also had diabetes, that's going to factor into your charges because we also have to treat those conditions as well," she says.

Of course, insurance companies and medicare negotiate to reduce these hospital fees. So, although you can compare hospital costs, you have to be careful

"If you are looking to save costs on your procedure, it's always best to stay in network, but you would want to find out ahead of time what your network is willing to provide for you," says Lara.          

Greater cincinnati Health Council CEO, Craig Brammer, says area hospital costs come in the middle compared with the rest of the nation. Some markets are higher, some lower.

"In our community, we're fortunate that we have a very compmetitive market, and so we have five adult systems within the greater Cincinnati region, plus Children's and that's a pretty competitive, aggressive market," says Brammer.

Interesingly, studies show the quality of care delivered is generally the same no matter how much a hospital charges. There's no clear connection between higher prices and better outcomes, but it is certainly worth checking the listed rates before any kind of elective procedure.

For more information, click HERE.

Howard Ain, Trubleshooter: Save on hospital procedures

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